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How much is too much for a logo design? Ask the town of Garland TX.


I talk to clients all the time about logos as part of a larger brand building campaign and sometime it is best to leave things to the professionals. Recently Garland Texas rebranded their city. No you would think a city rebranding project might a pricey job because you need to do a lot of research to feel out your local citizens to get them on board with the new change, but also in order to get an idea of who these people are and how best to represent them.

This could easily take many man hours to develop the strategy before the design process even starts. It looks like Garland spent somewhere around $78, 000 for the research, logo design and corporate identity manual on how to effectively use the logo to make the strongest brand possible.

Now to some of the people that were interviewed this seemed like a lot of money, too much for a silly flower logo. In the grand scheme of things a solid city logo will be around for many years, decades or lifetimes if done well. The problem is the people interviewed were not professionals and do not understand the value of a city brand. This is something that could bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic development over the lifetime of this logo. Is that worth $78K? Sound fair to me.

Industry standards say that a similar project include:

  • comprehensive research
  • consultation and design audit
  • design of an integrated identity system
  • presentation of 3 to 6 schematics
  • final application to collateral, signs, etc.
  • and an implementation guidelines

This type project typically goes for an average of $30K-$100K depending on the size of the client in this case city.

So what do we think of the logo as a branding company? I think it is ok. I think this is a reasonable amount to charge for this project, but I would have liked to see the other options for the design. My only concern with the logo is that it uses what looks to be a standard font. Typically we recommend customizing the font/type in order to make it a little more unique and customized. This is a basic branding technique we require for any serious brand development we do. Actually the original logo has more customized type instead of just a font.

Do I think the new logo is better than the old one? Maybe, but the old logo was good, it just looks a little dated with the star swoosh. It looks like it was done in the '90s when there seemed to be a big trend in swooshes. Honestly if you removed the star and the swoosh the old logo is pretty good.

Anyhow, the new logo is strong and will set Garland apart. This logo may be a little too complex and I would recommend simplifying things more to work as both a large and small logo symbol (icon), but overall it is professional and strong so this should be good for Garland's future.


0228 garland logo old


0228 garland logo new


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you prefer the logo before or after the rebranding. What are your thoughts on the price do you think $78,000 is reasonable for this logo for a city?


Posted by: Dale Berkebile

Tags: , ,


I agree with your assessment about the cost for professional branding for prominent organizations. $30K+ for research, consultation, design and use guidelines takes a lot of time and there are real economic benefits to having a strong brand. 
But I think in this case they paid too much! If you look at the graphic without the text, while it's clear and clean, it looks very amateurish and cookie-cutter to me. It can't stand alone and it won't stand out against other logos. It really looks like someone pulled some clipart into Photoshop and added some color.  
In the long run, it probably won't matter. When people start seeing it everywhere, they'll become accustomed to it and identify it with the city. It's friendly and an improvement over the previous logo! Good logo or bad logo, that will happen. But I still think they paid too much for it. It doesn't feel "finished."

posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 8:39 AM by Janna Polzin

I agree with you. If this logo was coming out of my shop it would be a much stronger icon. Agreed that it looks unfinished, but I am wondering if part of this is due to the fact that it sounds like this job was kind of design by committee and I'm sure you know how that goes. 
It does look a little cliparty or busy in my mind. Put that logo on a pencil or something small and see how the intricate detail holds up. This is the thing I would be concerned with and why I'd recommend simplifying the logo. As you mentioned if this was pushed just a bit further, they may have gotten something great instead of just ok. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 8:53 AM by Dale Berkebile

Yes! It would be great to see some of the iterations that came out before the committee got their hands on it. :-) Those types of design projects are so draining.

posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 8:59 AM by Janna Polzin

Yes, Janna, they are draining. Very draining. Oh well.

posted @ Thursday, March 31, 2011 9:31 AM by Dale Berkebile

To most small biz folks, the thought of spending more than $30K is unthinkable. But it does emphasize te fact that a logo is an investment. I just went through a logo redesign and though I didn't spend nearly that, it was more than many of my colleagues ever would pay (heard of one who spent a whopping $400 for a logo rebrand). 
As a promotional products person, I just cringe when I see logos like the new "After" version. It's artistically pleasing, Not easily interpreted into b/w. Colors that would be difficult to match without PMS upcharges. Tight registration. Not easily scalable. It would be a nightmare to shrink into a 3/4" x 3/4" imprint. 
Thanks for always looking beyond the beauty of graphics!

posted @ Monday, April 04, 2011 10:23 PM by Heidi Thorne

I am sooo HAPPY you commented on this one. I think of promo items when I see logos like this. The new logo will be a nightmare for items like pens or pencils which is kind of where my mind always goes when I see a logo like this. I am ok with PMS upcharges, but I want nothing to do with this tight registration. It is good to see someone who deals with this kind of thing day in and day out share their thoughts. Your feedback is always valuable, but this one knocks it out of the ballpark. Honestly promo people see the worst of logos. I have help one promo company early on do nothing but clean up client logo messes. This could be a fulltime industry doing nothing more then being the source to clean up logos for promo people. 
By the way, your rebrand works like a charm on pens all the way up to billboards. Hmmm, it is like you thought about this ahead of time. Good job! I wish everyone did.

posted @ Tuesday, April 05, 2011 8:21 AM by Dale Berkebile

Comments have been closed for this article.



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